BJJ Gym Contracts: What to Know Before You Sign

You asked questions, did your research, and picked a gym to sign up at. Congratulations! This is a great first step, and you should be feeling excited to go to your first class. Before you can jump on the mats, though, there are a number of things you will need to do.

Call Ahead Before you Show up to Sign

Call ahead and make sure there is someone available to sign you up for a new membership. Some gyms have a very small staff, and there may not always be someone at the front desk who can sign you up. Even if the gym is open and is running a class when you show up, the instructors don’t always have access to the membership system. Additionally, some gyms may require that you do a private lesson or special class before you can join the general student population. By calling ahead, you can avoid a situation where you show up ready to train only to find out that you have to wait.

Arrive Early if you are Signing up Before Class

In the event that you are able to start training with the other students immediately, make sure you aren’t late to your first class by showing up 15-20 minutes early. This should give you enough time to sign paperwork, get added to their system, pay your membership dues, and get changed, and get on the mats. Your first class is likely to be overwhelming, and you don’t want to add to that by being late.

Signing a Waiver is Standard Practice

Before you can get on the mats, the gym will require you to sign a waiver. This is a standard procedure at BJJ gyms, and it waives them from any liability if you get injured during training. If you are concerned about getting injured, don’t let it prevent you from trying out BJJ--even if it’s just once. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is actually a relatively gentle grappling art, and there are ways to train safely and minimize the risk of injury. If you are feeling unsure about your safety, be sure to express your concerns to your instructor, and they should help find a solution. If they don’t, it might be a good indication to find a different gym.

Try one or More Free Classes Before Signing a Contract

Most gyms have some form of contact, even if it’s just month-to-month, but some gyms will require a one-year or two-year contract. Other gyms will allow you to purchase a set number of classes via a punch card, which can be a great way to try out a new gym before committing to a contract.

If you plan on signing a long-term contract, make sure you have spent extra time researching the gym, and you are extremely confident in your decision to sign up with them. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is typically not a cheap sport to participate in, and it would be a shame to sign a long-term contract only to decide to quit a few months into it. Especially when you are first starting BJJ, it may be in your best interest to find a gym that offers a month-to-month contract or a punch card.

Look out for Surprise Fees When Signing

When it comes time to pay, hopefully, you won’t be made aware of any surprise last-minute charges. In some cases, gyms will have an initiation fee of some kind. Ideally, you’ve done your research ahead of time, and you know exactly how much you will need to pay when signing up. An initiation fee isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as this fee will often be a commission for the front desk person. The main issue is when it seems like the gym is trying to sneak in a last-minute fee. Make sure you ask about any signup fees when doing your research so that you can budget accordingly in advance.

To pay, most gyms will take your card information and charge you at the beginning or middle of each month. They may not ask you what date you prefer to be billed, but don’t be afraid to request a specific date. Most payment systems should be able to accommodate a specific billing date, but not all gyms will be able to accommodate this request. If you don’t want to use a card or don’t want recurring monthly charges, you can typically purchase a punch card with cash or a one-time card payment.